Here you go another of my It’s My Life, columns in the Irish Examiner. It’s been a few weeks but yer man is featured once more. Where would I find my content without him?
Isn’t it strange how we get used to the quirks of our home, the lock that sticks or the window that doesn’t open. Or maybe that’s just me?
Of course, yer man and myself have the best of intentions to fix them, but time passes and the day comes when we don’t even notice them anymore. We develop a knack to opening that lock and aren’t there plenty other windows to open instead of the broken one?
However, sometimes a moment comes when we can no longer ignore the issue. So it was with the decking this Summer.
Twelve years ago we built an extension, outside of which we put down the in-thing at the time… decking. When I saw it laid I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Surely this meant we’d come up a notch in the world and almost immediately I began to develop notions! We nearly had to re-mortgage, such was my addiction to filling it with plants, not to mention the furniture I knew would finish it off.
Needless to say yer man developed no such notions.
However, in our ignorance we’d no idea how much work there was to maintaining our glorious decking. Ignoring it for the first few years, we watched as it began to look less than glorious. Finally, following the advice of Mr Skilled Carpenter next door, yer man went to work with wood preserver one weekend while I was away. When I returned he was pleased as punch.
“Well, what do you think?”
I bit my tongue as I wanted to say, “Why did you paint our decking mustard?” But mindful I’d been away and of no assistance whatsoever, I said, “It’s lovely,” but in a tone which might have inferred, “I hate it.” We never spoke of it again but I suspect he agreed as the following year it returned to its ‘natural,’ dark oak.
Despite our decking being a thing of beauty in Summer, it was lethal in winter. While continuing to look like decking, come early November, it transformed into a world class ice rink.
It didn’t even need ice, just a week or so of cold, wet weather.
Of course, yer man was in denial at the danger it posed. He’d applied the appropriate protection. To criticise the decking was to criticise him.
When some poor misfortune drew the short straw and had to take the rubbish out to the bin, I’d wave them off from the patio door,
“Be careful out there.”
Cautiously they’d cross it taking baby steps, looking not unlike I did when trying to ice-skate for the first time. Unfortunately, sometimes someone would rush out, forgetting its slippery surface, only to slide the length of the decking with a high-pitched squeal. Highly entertaining, as long as it wasn’t you.
This Summer, after last years savage winter, our decking was literally cracking up, every board creaking or broken.
“Here’s your barbecued burgers gang,” I’d shout from the edge of the patio.
“Can you bring them over Mum, it’s a bit dangerous for two to stand on that board.”
Yer man muttered about our exaggerating, deaf to the crunching and cracking under his foot. Until one day our daughter stepped out the back door and quite literally disappeared. She wasn’t hurt, but the rest of us nearly did some serious damage laughing.
Later that evening she couldn’t wait to show yer man what had happened.
“Look,” she said, pointing to the large hole in the decking, “I came out the door and disappeared down there.”
“Really?” said yer man, “I’d better fix that.” I heaved a sigh of relief. Action at last.
“What about the other breaking pieces?” I said.
“Yerra, they’ll be grand. Just try not to walk on them.”